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Why is there Philosophy of Mathematics? An Appetizer

Location
Law LT2 (Room 115)
Dates
Wednesday 28 November 2018 (17:15-18:15)
Contact

For more information please contact the convenors, Dr Salvatore Florio and Dr Laura Crosilla.

Mathematics and Philosophy Seminar

  • Speaker: Professor Michael Rathjen (University of Leeds)
  • Title: Why is there Philosophy of Mathematics? An Appetizer

Michael is a leading figure in mathematical logic world-wide and we are very pleased to have him speak at this seminar. The talk (including discussion) will last approximately one hour and will be followed by refreshments. All welcome!

For more information please contact the convenors, Dr Salvatore Florio and Dr Laura Crosilla.

Abstract

The experience that mathematical truths are capable of an absolute proof has greatly impressed philosophers, e.g. Plato, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz and Kant, to name a few. But a proof has to start somewhere. What are the basic building blocks of mathematics? The question of how axioms, especially about the infinite, can be justified was of great importance to the discussions of leading mathematicians at the end of the 19th and in the early 20th century. There is also the mysterious ability of mathematics, avowedly a product of the human mind, to describe the natural world and make uncannily accurate predictions about its behaviour. Why is that so and where does our aptitude for mathematics come from? With the recent advances of AI, a question that has been discussed in mathematical logic for a long time is becoming more salient: Is a machine capable of representing the human mental capacity for doing mathematics? These are some of the fascinating questions that exemplify the perennial interest in the philosophy of mathematics. The plan is to delve into some of the discussions, aiming to wet your appetite for philosophy of mathematics.

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